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Reasons It's Better To Grow My Own

 
pollinator
Posts: 1562
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I have plenty of my own reasons for wanting to grow my own food and plants, but talking around, I'm learning that other people have different reasons. There's surely not one all encompassing reason!

What's yours?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I do it so that I know with certainty what is in the food I am eating, that it's -cide free, the food tastes better and is fresher, and because I enjoy it.  Additionally, it appeals to the prepper in me that I have a means of feeding myself if other sources of food are no longer available.  My diet might not be as varied, but with my chickens and my gardens, I could survive.
 
steward
Posts: 5052
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I do it to have clean food that is cheaper and unavailable elsewhere (store, market, etc).  I also grow large amounts of certain things to can/preserve for the winter.  I like the self sufficiency angle and the nutritionally dense angle as well.  Lastly I sell a bit at a fortnightly small farmer's market.  I really like that because I can plant a bunch and sell some one week, can/dry the bounty the next.

For instance, there are potato farms in my area.  If I went there on the "pick for the food pantry" day, by volunteering I could go home with a bucket of free potatoes.  But they are likely herbicided to kill the vines just prior to harvest.  Plus the other chemicals applied during the year make them less than enticing.  I can buy organic from the store but that's costly.  And I don't know where I could get purple fingerlings around here.  
 
gardener
Posts: 6274
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Su Ba, great thread.

We grow our own foods so we have the things we like to eat that taste better than any we can buy.
We like to sit in the soil that is the lap of the earth mother and nurture those wonderful plants so they grow strong, are healthy and thus provide us with all the nutrition the plants were meant to provide us.
We do the same with those animals we raise to become our meat, they get to live a great life with no stresses, plenty of food they like to eat and all the comforts they desire to have.
Wolf mentions that we treat our "crop" animals the way we treat our dogs, but with the knowledge that those animals will give their life for our food needs.

Nutrition is our main reason for farming at all. When you compare the tastes of "store bought" foods to those we grow, there is no comparison.
A tomato should taste like a tomato, not watered down pinkish, gritty pulp.
We have given many vegetables and fruits to friends and people in need, all of them talk about how delicious what we gave them was.

If you get the nutrition you have better health.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 4328
Location: Anjou ,France
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For me it's money and taste . I don't aim for 100% but I hope to get to 75 , 80 % eventually both by barter and directly growing  Nor do I seek to spend time trying to sell stuff.
Doing anything 100% is always difficult
Taste for me is freshness , goodness and not having any toxic gick .
Money is that I don't buy stuff nor do I work to get money to buy stuff I can use my money for other stuff:-)

David
 
garden master
Posts: 2749
Location: West Tennessee
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I do it for the same reasons my peers mentioned, nutrition. The human body makes about 200 billion new cells every day, and it does that with the food we eat. I enjoy planting a seed and seeing life come forth and nurturing that plant into a robust healthy specimen. It's fun to add minerals to a soil and watch plant diseases subside or disappear altogether. Plus I like being outdoors and having my hands in the soil listening the songbirds sing. There's something satisfying about going out to the garden to get ingredients for the dinner my wife is preparing.
 
Posts: 80
Location: Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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I grow our food because I like feeling powerful.
When I pull a big ole' ox heart carrot out of the ground or weigh a tomato in at over a pound, I feel powerful. I eat the good food and also feel powerful. I feed my child yummy food from our garden and feel powerful. It's so nutty and intoxicating.
It costs less in our neck of the woods to rely on the grocery store for everything - if one were a frugal shopper and went without wine and other fun things (who would do that?!?) But shopping makes me feel weak and reliant. (I still have to shop for things - we can't grow all the things here!)
Nutrition, yes. For sure. Also, I like growing food because I hate working out and don't want to be unhealthy. I garden, I huff and puff, I burn calories and I pull food out of the bit of earth we are on and feel powerful and healthy.
We have found a good mix of growing staple vegetable and fruits and have a respectable orchard and nut tree alley that will help out in later years (our farm is new in the last 2 years.)
That powerful feeling also accompanies butchering day, putting up wood for the winter, sewing my summer dresses and being able to sit in our pasture and look at crickets for 30 minutes in the sun.
(Interestingly it does NOT accompany the scorching pain in my lower back after stacking 2 cords of firewood, but oh, well. They can't all be zingers.)
 
pollinator
Posts: 459
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I do it because it's my nature.

Nothing I do seems more natural -- more inevitable -- to me than gardening, with the single possible exception of reading.

I like that I can grow things that are free of pesticides and man-made fertilizers, but it's an outgrowth of doing something dear to me already. Kale and chard and okra etc. etc. make me happy when I take care of them and they feed me. Squash, too. And tomatoes, and ...
 
pollinator
Posts: 206
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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Several of the same reasons others have mentioned, and likely it can be summed up as efficiency in how I live, but I'll list them anyways.

By growing my own, I:

-avoid buying overpriced and/or low quality food, meaning my dollar goes further
-don't have to travel several KM to get food
-don't have to wonder how safe my food is
-get more nutrients per pound because the way food is grown in a garden is many times better than the industry standards. This means I don't over-eat as much, in my experience anyways.
-gain the great skill of gardening, which leads to many other homestead-type skills (all of which are underrated)
-can be an example in my community, and provide surplus to the neighbours around me, hopefully inspiring them to do the same.
-can be outside in nature while doing meaningful work, instead of needing to go to a gym to do a work-out which mostly only carries the reason of vanity.
-am able to be more aware. I can see what the sky is doing and notice how the wind is moving which gives an accurate weather prediction without having to listen to the news, and my mind is more free as I no longer have to go to stores designed to get my mind to think about what to "buy buy buy"
-am able to gain appreciation for life. I told my sister the other day who "eats healthy" that everytime she throws away a pepper, that's 100 days gone and all the resources that went into getting that to a store.
-watch my garden grow and continually get better each year, and because of that observation I am able to see how I've grown with it over the years. It's a relationship I can't really describe, but it's a commitment to being part of something bigger than yourself.  

(I'm sure I'll have more reasons next year)

Ultimately, all these reasons add up to my time being spent in the best ways possible so I can live a better life. That's why I grow my own.
 
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: Montana
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I have a prepper urge to try growing my all my own food sometime. I want to keep the seed I need on hand for that.

Mostly though it's that the crop diversity of vegetable, grain, and herbs is amazing and as a botanist I love plants.

So mostly to be honest I am a tinkerer who basically just wants to frolic in a garden with large amounts of genetic diversity and save a lot of seeds.

Frolicking is defined as pulling endless canada thistle right?

Also sometimes as a side benefit it results in large amounts of tomatoes and squash and I can try making my own pizza sauce from the former and pie all winter from the latter.
 
Posts: 327
Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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I like the connection to nature and the circle of life.  I don't have a lot of growing space or time to work it, so I grow a variety of stuff and there is usually a handful of something to eat and some interesting weed or fungus or insect to look at.  I don't get why the (typically) older blokes up the allotment do what they do, slogging away at rows of carrots and leeks and runner beans.  I think they grow their own to get away from their wives!
 
pollinator
Posts: 226
Location: istanbul - turkey
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I need to feel I am alive!
By alive I mean:
Couple of years ago I was observing how wonderfully soil was covered with radish. Even though they were meant to break apart clay, I pulled couple of them and brought back home. That salad! That radish! Or in meme culture "DAT RADISH!" Seriously that was, well you know what I mean here if you ever tasted a nutrient dense food after a long period of time. It feels right, it tastes right, it is right. Just a small bite is enough, the taste lasts for hours, and you don't feel hungry at all. It was definitely one of the greatest shocks of my entire life.
 
pollinator
Posts: 445
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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I like to grow things that aren't available to buy- colourful corn, purple carrots, spaghetti squash- all very difficult to buy here!

I like the idea of providing for myself, but in honesty I think I spend more money on growing my own than I would do on buying produce. However i enjoy it- planting a seed and a few months later harvesting courgettes is amazing! Its good exercise too! And I really enjoy being outside, experiencing the seasons and watching them change.

And I love building things- a garden and 'garden systems' give me opportunity to design and build things! Chicken coops, mealworm farms, raised beds, greenhouses- I like to build things!
 
pollinator
Posts: 521
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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As in the sister thread, I'll stretch the verb "grow" to include livestock.  My primary, or at least initial, reason for growing my own is to get the kind of food I want to eat but which is unavailable or at least difficult to source elsewhere.

As an example, I can't go to the farmers market and buy a free-range, pasture-raised, non-GMO, soy-free heritage breed table chicken.  So I raise them (and make them available for others who may want them also).

There are ancillary benefits, but the ability to have the kind of food we want to eat is paramount.

For other items, it's an economic decision.  I'm not a great gardener, and while I mostly enjoy it there are plenty of other things I'd rather do.  (I enjoy the planning, the planting, and the harvesting.  It's the tending that gets me, and not yet having a good system in place means the tending bit becomes drudgery.  That ought to change soon.)  There are farmers that I know and trust, and I'd be perfectly content to purchase from them, knowing how they care for their land and their crops, but it's pricey.  When I can buy a pound of carrots for $5 or a packet of carrot seed for $2, it's hard to justify the former option.
 
pollinator
Posts: 546
Location: Denmark 57N
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Why? Well because I enjoy gardening, it's satisfying
It's cheaper, here my seeds (for the entire garden 41 types) for last year cost the same as buying ONE bag of carrots or onions a week for the year.
I also like having stores it makes me feel cosy, I just bottled 12 jars of pears today, and I'm drying the rest from that tree.
It makes you think, this month it was; What do I do with 30kg of cucumbers? I have enough pickles and burger relish for two years now (stirfry is the answer, they are unbelieveably good in it!)
And I've been kind of practicing for three years, next year I'm selling vegetables for the 20 week season.

For the Eggs, well it's quality, my birds get a organic (Pig) concentrate feed mixed with local non organic barley, they also free range, and I mean free they have no fence all summer. So their eggs taste and look very different.
For the meat We raise muscovy ducks, they are very easy, also freerange with the chickens and provide a meat that when cooked we cannot tell apart from beef, and they are a tiny bit cheaper to raise than to buy.
 
pollinator
Posts: 702
Location: Southern Oregon
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To improve my mental health, has been a big reason for me. This is also a reason why living in a climate that I can go outside pretty much everyday has been so important for me. My life has not be easy, let's say. I realize most people's lives aren't easy, but there are levels.

It's been very important for me to get out of my head, and touch the earth. To feel grounded and connected. to the earth, to my food, to what's real. Sorry for going all woo-woo on you.
 
gardener
Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
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Hands in dirt and potmix in my hair part. Great stuff.

Weeding is a good stress reliever for me. Though I work hard not to have to.

Fresher, and many varieties that would not survive shipping (especially tomatoes) right there for me fresh and ripe. I know what was put on them, what they grew in, and there's nothing like truly ripe collected versus the cardboard that looks pretty at the store...

I had my quince snarl really put the fruit on this year. Someone showed up at my door the other day and wanted to buy some. I had them hold the pail and I picked (no issues with how the tree and suckerbushes it grew were treated) and they took two full to top 5 gallon pails. It left me a goodly 'branch' left, which is what I wanted off the crop, and after they left I picked my share. They about fell over to find it was truly natural, no sprays, no lawn fertilizers, nothing. Just plain natural tree (and more) that grew and drank mostly rain water and put out some really great tasting fruit. I also took them on tour of the peppers and they would tell everyone they knew about my better fresher nicer produce. (now if things only cooperate to give me a crop).

Growing my own, difference between that and the market garden, is I purposely grow more than I can use, and others will help me pay the bills to produce it. Some things I can't possibly grow enough for my own use, so I have some for a 'fresh in season' crop that I can manage and enjoy, and rely on other ways to get my full year supply. But ooh, home grown, nothing will beat it. Just get used to 'blems' that eat fine but would never sell, I plant more for the bugs. Just wish I could teach them to eat up one fruit instead of sampling six....
 
pollinator
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Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Before reading other's answers ... My reasons for growing vegetables (and fruits) are:
- to be sure I have something to eat that's free from 'icky stuff' (pesticides, chemical fertilizers)  
- and it's almost free too, at least much lower costs than organic food in the stores
- and I have nice activities to do in my garden
 
Posts: 94
Location: zone 6a, ish
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I think my reasons have evolved over time.  I started growing food at 19, mostly to build skills, a test-run for saving money as a "real" adult later on (I'd just read The Complete Tightwad Gazette and I was determined to pinch every nickel hard enough to make the buffalo shit).  There was an element of rebellion/ getting back to my roots to it, since my Boomer parents were very much a product of their times--they prefer manicured lawns and everything from a box or a can (as kids their families couldn't afford to eat that way, so it was a "we have arrived" thing for them to be able to have frozen dinners and all-in-one meal kits).  I wanted to be able to can and freeze my own food like my grandmothers did; to me it's something very traditionally female, and part of my feminist, where-do-I-fit-in-the-modern-world journey was finding what roles I wanted to reject or reclaim.  

As I got older and learned more about food miles and carbon footprint, I added another reason to garden to my list.  I started off organic because I already knew about how bad chemical ag is for everything, but I really buckled down on inputs and not using stuff from off-site (like driving over an hour to get a pickup truck load of mushroom soil or buying straw just for mulch).

And now, with the world falling apart faster than it was it was even a decade ago, it seems stupid for anyone *not* to grow something edible if they have any patch of dirt available to them and the physical ability to do it.  I know that's not the kind of attitude that's really acceptable on the site and everyone has their own reasons for doing what they do (or don't do), but to me food production seems like such an urgent thing when we're only a year or two of crop failures away from the complete collapse of our entire economic, political, and social system.  I don't want to be any more of a part of the problem than I already am; I'd rather be closer to the being-the-solution side of things.

Food safety is a huge reason for me as well.  I have some phobias when it comes to eating and food poisoning; I won't eat anything that isn't cooked unless I grew and harvested it myself.  I'm not keen on any of the other stuff that might be in the food that won't cook out (-cides and god-only-knows what else), either.

Also, since I don't have religion, growing food is about as spiritual as I get; I don't have a lot of meaningful connections anywhere in my life, but I feel like I'm part of something bigger when I've got my hands in the dirt.  The physical labor can be kind of spiritual, too--I love to dig holes and shovel compost because, even though it's exhausting, the repetitive nature of it is almost like a meditation.  (Honestly though I think I would look at things differently if I was a subsistence farmer and not just a hobbyist.)
 
pollinator
Posts: 197
Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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I grew up gardening, and my earliest memories involve growing food. I love the whole process, planting, nurturing, harvesting, cooking. As a child I wanted more — I wanted livestock. That wasn’t possible with my mom. For a science fair project I researched (remember libraries, before the Internet - card catalogs and actual books??), designed and built an incubator, got some fertile eggs, and hatched them out. But mom made me get rid of the resulting chicks. That was sad, as I thought I had figured out the PERFECT way to finally have my own flock. My concept was foiled. 😿

So as an adult, I have continued gardening, but also added livestock. I took to homesteading. And I adopted permaculture principles over time.

There’s nothing like a vine ripened tomato, warm from the summer sun — those first picked fruits don’t even make it into the kitchen.

And sweet corn. Fresh picked, husked, and into the boiling water. Mmmmmmm.

There’s nothing like fresh eggs from chickens fed the best home grown organic feeds - the brilliant gold vitamin-rich yolks make those pale “eggs” from the store look like faux eggs.

There’s nothing like opening the pantry and seeing the lovely home canned foods.

Goats — can you buy goat milk from stores? Well, not really GOOD milk - I cannot stand that cr@p, honestly. Goat milk from your own? Rich, creamy - makes the best yogurts, cheeses, puddings, ice milks, or just the best accompaniment to fresh hot brownies I’ve ever had.

Could we live in an apartment and eat expensive food from stores and restaurants and rarely set foot outside? Sure. Is that living? No, not for us.
 
pioneer
Posts: 63
Location: Idaho USA
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I spent far too many years tinkering with gardens without any thought to long-term goals. I consider the food forest I'm creating now to be my retirement plan. I'm hoping that if I put in the work now, I'll be able to grow the majority of my own food for many years to come with minimal effort.
 
Posts: 44
Location: Oregon Coast and Cascade Range, valley side, ~44 N
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I find watching plants flourish and grow more vigorously due to my alterations to be one of the most satisfying things.

Maybe even more satisfying, is finding new wildlife on the grounds, and knowing that there are many things which also find the patch of land useful.  Like this year, I found 6 yellowjacket nests on the 2.7 acres, and then I did the honey drop thing and Mr Skunk found and dug up and ate 5 of them in October.   Skunks and yellowjackets are cool, but not quite as awesome as the pileated woodpeckers...they are big and crazy agile, sometimes you hear them even if you can't see them, not pecking but cutting the air so loudly when in flight that you hear them coming in from like a hundred yards away.  

Each year in autumn they hit up the Doug fir stumps that were cut here like 60 years ago, which are still massive prominent features on the landscape just a few steps away from all the wood I have buried to accelerate decomposition.   Ecological food for thought; there are a number of awesome life forms which cannot make use of your land if you hugel all the dead and fallen wood in your landscape.  Having my gardening interrupted by this woodpecker might be my favorite thing in the garden beyond the delicious nutritious food (only when hungry, observing wildlife is almost always awesome haha.)  I am especially psyched that this last autumn, two of the pileated wookpeckers showed up, and they made not one, but 2 different hallows one of them could fit in, in the fir trees on the property.  I'm like, where did this pile of inch long shredded fresh wood come from? like 60 feet up in the air, in one of the grand firs I limbed as high.  Super impressed, that bird is strong enough to peck and tear out a hallow in green wood that it can fit inside of.

They worked on their hallows, for hours from like 11 am to 2 pm, not on consecutive days but often, for a few weeks, and then they left.   High hopes baby...Maybe as awesome as woodpeckers is having the gardening time interrupted by newts...funny to think that eating one would make you die...it's difficult to choose favorites haha.  I found a new footprint in the mud a few months ago, which was too large to be a pine martin, so it was either a badger that had recently clawed its way through its claws, or a fisher cat...sweet.  I'm crazy fortunate to be gardening on ground that was old growth forest when first cleared not long ago (even though I'd say its unfortunate that they cut down all the trees more than like 20 years old) and be growing my own within 2 miles of, and just about integrated with, Oregon coast range wilderness.

Also, I find it about as deep, but disturbing rather than satisfying, that the production of most human food is so destructive. Like how every bite of food taken from most every store, has a petrol cost, an ecological destruction cost...Like whoa dude, that's messed up. I better commence taking action to remove myself from these systems.  Ima try to do the opposite thing.  Except with the deer, raccoons, mosquitoes and fleas and ticks.  There's plenty of those bastards, they can all eat shit and die. haha. I joke.  
 
Posts: 56
Location: Fort Worth, TX 76179
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Growing up, my parents would send us back to our grandmother's Southern MN acreage. She had about 8 acres, complete with abandoned farm buildings, grove and burn pit. Add to the mix firearms, corn fields, fireworks, tornados and random fruits growing in the most unlikely places and you'd be imagining my summer childhood.

It wasn't unusual to roll up the dirt road, road weary from the long drive from TX and Grandma would greet you with either a warm meal on the table or a stroll to show you her latest find on the property. Stretching the legs was always a win after that 16-hour car ride. Those are some of the best summers of my childhood I spent with my siblings and cousins at Grandma's place:
-climbing into the barn lofts (and swinging from them)
-discovering barn cats and their kittens
-turning the granary into a clubhouse
-chasing lightning bugs at dusk
-Swimming lessons at the YMCA
-Free access to the shotgun and had guns grandma kept in her kitchen with the warning "don't shoot the songbirds!"
-Shooting gofers, rabbits, and numerous water-filled milk jugs
-burning fallen branches in the burn pit and toasting marshmallows
-shooting off fireworks
-Driving her riding-lawnmower
-picking raspberries
-pilfering the strawberry patch
-eating fresh sweet corn
-racing tornados home
-turning any chore into a blast because grandma knew how to make anything fun

However, the common thread I share with my grandmother and her son (my dad) is our love of discovering and uncovering nature's secrets.

My past summers matured into a strong desire to recreate at least some of that childhood magic for myself and my own family. So, here I am, building my own little food forest, teaching my son about the wonders of nature, showing the neighbor kids what their food looks like before it hits the grocery store.

The best part is laying in my hammock after a long weekend of gardening work and stare at my haven as the soft peach of evening leaves a rosy glow and fades to the lavenders of yesteryears dreams. Royal blue deepens to navy nights and the stars share in the twinkling of the white incandescent xmas lights.  The day has come to a close. My son or husband usually flips on the porch light and asks "what are you doing...?" to which I respond " just... looking" I sometimes get an "oooooohkayyyyyy" from my son or my husband's "she's crazy but hey, if it makes her happy" face.

They don't get it really but I think my son has a touch of the garden bug as he's requested his own plot this year.

It makes me feel good to be in the dirt, to feel the sun, to chug water and eat my own fruits after an honest day's sweat. Nothing better.
I live for my weekends, for my time to feed my desire to grow and nurture life.
 
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I grow my own because it's fun! I really enjoy being out with the plants, even though it's on the weekends and it's a haul to drive down. The work is fun, the plants are great and I enjoy looking back at the photos over winter and seeing how things grow. Another reason is that the food I grow tastes better. It's delicious and tasty. Last reason, I grow things because I can grow exactly what I want, which might not be what's available at the grocery store or farmers market. For example: drying peppers for grinding. I have no idea where I would find these unless I grow them myself. It's great!
 
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